FAQ: From 'iPhonies' to iFacts, we answer your iPhone questions

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If problems persist, you may need to re-sync your data. To do so, plug in the iPhone to your computer using the USB cable and launch iTunes, if it's not launched immediately. Select the iPhone in the iTunes sidebar and click on the Info tab. If you scroll down, there is an Advanced section that allows you to replace specific information during the next sync. The ability to reset data includes contact, calendar, mail accounts and bookmark information, and can easily be done by checking the appropriate data option and hitting the Sync or Apply button.

How slow is AT&T's EDGE network? For real-world usage, EDGE is fine for e-mail, stock updates, weather, Google maps and RSS sites. That said, it is sometimes bizarrely, frustratingly slow. The iPhone's Safari browser on EDGE is too slow for an audience of impatient friends checking a Web site, but it's tolerable if you're surfing by yourself and not in a hurry. Safari is best when using Wi-Fi, but your level of patience and EDGE strength will determine your enjoyment level. That's why we're all waiting for a 3G version. It'll be noticeably faster.

Does iPhone support MMS? MMS is not supported on the iPhone. iPhone users can get notifications of MMS messages, but that consists of an SMS message telling you to access http://viewmymessage.com with the assigned username and password. Given the lack of copy and paste on the iPhone -- more on that next -- it's actually pretty annoying. I'd bet anything that MMS functionality will be one of the first third-party applications released.

Does iPhone support copy and paste? Nope. And there's been no word on whether this feature will be implemented. It certainly wasn't shown off by Apple during any iPhone demonstrations, but the fact that this is an often-requested feature means someone should be working on it.

Safari-based access to the Internet is great and all, but is there a faster way to find numbers and addresses without using Google's search site or Yellow/WhitePages.com? Your best bet for information such as phone numbers, addresses or directions is the iPhone's Maps application. Let's say you want to find a nearby gas station. Tap the Maps icon, then hit the Locate Me button on the lower left, and when the iPhone finds your location, tap the text field at the top of the screen. Type in what you're seeking -- in this case "gas." The search results appear as pinpoints on the map, and tapping any of the pinpoints reveals the name of the location plus a "more info" arrow. That arrow takes you to a screen that displays the location's listed phone number, home page and address. You can even get directions from or to the location, save the results to your bookmarks or save the information in contacts for future reference.

In some locations, Maps also offers real-time traffic information, indicated by red, yellow or green overlays on the roads. It's surprisingly handy when traveling.

How do I prolong my battery life? By using the phone as a phone -- or surfing with it over Wi-Fi -- as little as possible. Also, tap the Settings button and go into the Wi-Fi preferences. Turn off "Ask to Join Networks." Leaving this on means the iPhone is continuously scanning for new Wi-Fi hot spots. While useful if you're actually looking for wireless, it cuts into battery life. If you've logged into a Wi-Fi hot spot before, the iPhone will remember it the next time you're in range and automatically connect you, as long as it doesn't require Safari-based authentication. Changing the time between e-mail checks under the Mail settings can also help battery life. I've noticed real-world battery life increases just by changing Auto-Check from 15 minutes to 30.

Another way to make sure you're iPhone lasts is by purchasing external power add-ons like this one . This could easily help alleviate battery issues if you're away from a power source for a while.

How is typing on the keyboard? Here's the thing about the iPhone's software keyboard. Once you become accustomed to the way it works, it's difficult to go back to tactile keys. (Wait, do I hear the BlackBerry fanboys howling?) First, you must get used to the touch screen. While the iPhone does its best to ignore unintentional touches, there is a bit of a learning curve concerning the actual handling of touch screens. With button-based phones, if another finger or part of the hand rested on the phone's surface, nothing would happen. On the iPhone, sometimes grazing the screen with a part of your hand may be enough to launch an app, so it's best to hold the iPhone with one hand and use the other to type. The more deliberate the touch or gesture, the better the response from the screen.

Deliberate doesn't necessarily mean hard or excessive or slow. It just means deliberate. Since the iPhone is trying to determine whether the touches are intentional, a firm touch is best. Within days you'll pick up speed.

The iPhone's keyboard has a bunch of tricks it uses to stay on top of your text entry. If you press down on the keyboard and find that you've landed on the wrong letter, don't lift your finger. Just slide it to the letter you want. Once that letter is selected, lift your finger. With each successive letter, the iPhone narrows its guesses at the word you're trying to spell, and even assists by invisibly shifting the tappable area of each letter. The next most likely letter gets the bigger tappable area, dynamically. In concert with that, the iPhone analyzes key presses and figures out what you're trying to write, even if you never actually hit a single letter accurately!

For instance, I just typed the well-known pangram, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" into my phone as fast as I could, using two thumbs while I timed myself. In less than 10 seconds -- 9.7 to be exact -- I had that exact phrase typed out, even though what I actually typed was jibberish. As part of its predictive texting, the iPhone offers suggestions based on its calculations of your button presses, and it makes that the default the moment you press the space key. Once you realize you don't have to be accurate with your touch strokes and learn to trust the keyboard, typing becomes a breeze.

Who will win out: the BlackBerry or iPhone? The market is big enough for both. While the BlackBerry has had a place in IT shops for a long time, the iPhone puts the fun in functional, and it's about to get a serious productivity boost with the upcoming software update. Once the iPhone is updated, it will be able to do a lot more BlackBerry stuff than the BlackBerry can do iPhone stuff. RIM's response is the Bold and a newer touch-screen model, which implies Apple chose wisely when it skipped physical buttons for a touch screen.

With direct syncing eliminating the need for extra hardware and software, and with the iPhone's continued popularity, I'd be a little worried if I were RIM.

Got a nagging question or want to weigh in on the iPhone yourself? Leave a message in the comments area below.

Next: Opinion: When will iPhone have its own moment in history??

Michael DeAgonia is a computer consultant and technologist who has been using Macintoshes and working on them professionally since 1993. His tech-support background includes tenures at Computerworld, colleges, the biopharmaceutical industry, the graphics industry and Apple. Currently, he is working as a Macintosh administrator at a large media company.

This story, "FAQ: From 'iPhonies' to iFacts, we answer your iPhone questions" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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